Top Dawg Entertainment, the independent home of Kendrick Lamar and Black Hippy (a.k.a. ScHoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock), has told the Fader that the quartet are nearing a joint venture deal with Aftermath Music and Interscope Records. Lamar has a joint deal with Top Dawg and the two labels — Aftermath is the home of Dr. Dre, Eminem, and 50 Cent — for his forthcoming sophomore record, while the rest of the gang will be released by Top Dawg and Interscope only. Both Interscope and Aftermath are subsidiaries of Universal Music Group, which means that the days of speculation over how close Lamar and Dre are can finally be put behind us.
"The pros of being independent always have been to have that creative control," Lamar, who had been rumored to have closed a solo deal with Interscope since last summer, told Billboard last month, "not only with your music but how you go about putting it out. At the end of the day, me putting out that free music helped me to get where I'm at now." He continued by explaining, perhaps at the same time as Interscope/Aftermath talks were already in full-swing, that needed money would ultimately drive him and Black Hippy away from independent production.
At Interscope, the MCs will join a trio of recently signed acts born out of blog buzz: Azealia Banks (read our Breaking Out), Iggy Azalea, and Lana Del Rey (read our Deconstructing). While the world awaits details on the Black Hippy deal, enjoy all seven minutes of Kendrick Lamar and Gunplay's bizarro, misleadingly titled "Cartoon and Cereal" and check out where Lamar and Co. landed on our 40 Best Rap Albums of 2011 (hint: they did well).